Namikawa Yasuyuki and Japanese Cloisonné - The Allure of Meiji Cloisonné: The Aesthetic of Translucent Black

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

poster for Namikawa Yasuyuki and Japanese Cloisonné - The Allure of Meiji Cloisonné: The Aesthetic of Translucent Black
[Image: Yasuyuki Namikawa "Vase with Butterflies" one of pair, collection of Sennyuji Temple]

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During the Meiji period (1868-1912), cloisonné metal craft was a popular export. The exquisitely delicate cloisonné created by Yasuyuki Namikawa (1845-1927) brought the art form to its peak. This retrospective exhibition, ninety years after Namikawa’s death, brings together in one setting, for the first time, the complete range of his work, from his early period to his later years.

Namikawa was born into a samurai family in Kyoto. He served Prince Kuni Asahiko, and, after the Meiji Restoration, began producing cloisonné. Proceeding by trial and error, since he lacked formal training and reference materials, he worked hard to improve his techniques and designs. Such efforts bore fruit in the recognition of his work in domestic and international exhibitions. Discerning overseas visitors flocked to his workshop, and newspapers and magazines spread word of the “Kyoto Namikawa” brand abroad. In 1896, Namikawa was appointed Imperial Craftsman to the court to the Emperor Meiji, an honor that established his position as one of the most eminent craftsmen of his day. Following this, however, the volume of production by the cloisonné industry as a whole slumped early in the Taisho era (1912-1926). Namikawa closed his workshop, and his name was gradually forgotten. In recent years, growing interest in Meiji-era crafts has led to attention being paid once again to Namikawa. Detailed lines, rich colors, traditional seasonal motifs, and brilliantly polished translucent black enamel characterize his work; Namikawa cloisonné incorporates both superlative technique and a sophisticated aesthetic sensibility. Its glow still enthralls, as it has for over a century. To provide a complete portrait of Namikawa’s art, this exhibition includes sketches and other materials as well as finished works from both Japan and abroad.

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Schedule

from January 14, 2017 to April 09, 2017

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